A Hearty Lunch – Sausage Skillet Stew

I lieu of my potential Paleo transition, today’s recipe was found on fastpaleo.com.  I love this recipe because I love to take soup to work for lunch but it often doesn’t keep me full.  Not so with this soup.  Its very hearty and keeps me full until late afternoon.  I don’t love that it uses canned tomato sauce because commercial canning uses a lot of preservatives and if it doesn’t go bad I’m not so sure it’s good for you (except honey of course), but it’s still a pretty good recipe.  I just need to look up the recipe for tomato sauce in my Vitamix!  Next time I make this I’ll do that but this time I just used organic canned tomato sauce.

16 oz sausage of your choice

1 onion, sliced

16 oz mushrooms, sliced

4 zucchini, sliced

3 cups tomato sauce (2 cans)

4 cups spinach leaves

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

2 tsp garlic powder

Red pepper flakes to taste

IMG_1724Using a large, deep skillet, brown your sausage over medium heat.  I used pork jalapeno links.  If using sausage meat, break up with the back of a spoon into crumbles, then remove from pan and put aside.  If using links, brown evenly and also set aside until cool enough to slice.

Remove any extra grease from the pan other than what is needed to saute the onions, if necessary.  Add them to the pan over low-medium heat and soften slightly before adding the zucchini slices.  Saute a few minutes before adding the mushrooms.

Add the tomato sauce, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.  Add the sausage back to the pan; slice links first if using.  Bring almost to a boil, then cover (with a little gap to let steam out).

Turn the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables have released their juices.  Uncover the pan and add red pepper flakes to taste.  Let simmer about 10 minutes until it is slightly thickened, then add the spinach leaves and allow them to wilt.

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This is such a tasty, yummy stew and it’s packed with healthy veggies.  I will definitely be making this again.  Happy cooking!

 

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Slow Cooker Tuesday – Paleo Chicken Fajitas

So I’m thinking of going paleo.  I haven’t decided yet, I’m reading a book about it.  Once I’m done reading it (which will probably be next year with my schedule) I’ll make a decision.  But in the mean time I’ve been trying more paleo recipes and trying to cut grain, legumes, and dairy from my diet.  I did another slow cooker Sunday because I went to a zumbathon that lasted until late and I wanted dinner to be ready when I got home.  These were a success.  Very yummy!

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2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 large onions, sliced and popped into rings

4 bell peppers, sliced into rings

3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

3/4 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons cumin

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons chili powder

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Turn your slow cooker up to high to get it warmed up.  Place the coconut oil in the bottom to melt.  Put the onion and pepper rings on the bottom.  Place the chicken breast pieces in next.  Pour in chicken broth and lime juice.  Mix cumin, salt, and chili powder together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle seasonings over the chicken.  Place the lid on the cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.  When finished pull the chicken apart with tongs and a fork.  Serve on large romaine lettuce leaves with a scoop of paleo guacamole or your favorite fajita toppings.

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Thank you to my Paleolithic Slow Cooker cookbook for this recipe.  It turned out well.  I will try to repost my  paleo guac recipe.  It’s on the old tumblr blog.  Happy cooking!

St. Patrick’s Day Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

It was recently St. Patrick’s Day and I had never made corned beef and cabbage. I had an event to go to during the day so I had the bright idea to do slow-cooker corned beef and cabbage.  Martha Stewart had a recipe that looked fairly simple so I tried it out!

IMG_17162 celery stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces

3 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces

1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges (root end left intact)

1/2 pound small potatoes, halved if large

6 sprigs of thyme

1 corned beef brisket (about 3 pounds) plus liquid or spice packet that comes with or 1 tablespoon pickling spices

1/2 head of savoy cabbage, cut into 1 1/2 inch wedges

Grainy mustard, for serving

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In a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker, place celery, carrots, onion, potatoes, and thyme.   Place corned beef, fat side up, on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with picking spice or liquid; add enough water to almost cover the meat (4 to 6 cups).  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours until beef is tender.  Arrange cabbage over corned beef, cover and cook on high until cabbage is tender, about 45 minutes.  Thinly slice corned beef against the grain and serve with the vegetables, cooking liquid, and grainy mustard.

IMG_1719And there’s your easy corned beef and cabbage!  I forgot to serve mine with mustard but when I go home tonight and eat it again I will certainly add that in!  The meat is very salty so I’m sure the mustard will help cut that.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day and happy cooking!

 

 

The effects of MSG – Going a little cray cray!

I’ve been away from this blog and cooking for a week because I went out of town at the beginning of last week (Rob took me to Temecula for wine tasting.  My fav!) and when I got back I was booked solid with work and school all the way to the end of the week.  So what’s a girl to do with nothing but a bag of beets and three apples in the house and no time to go to the grocery store?  I ate out.  I’ve never spent a week eating out.  For the most part I make everything I eat and then go out to dinner on the weekends with Rob. So I decided to take advantage of this and try out a few places around where I work for lunch and a quick dinner.  I knew that restaurants use MSG a lot but I really didn’t understand to what extent!

I am super sensitive to MSG.  It didn’t used to bother me but as I’ve gotten older and treated my body better I’ve begun to notice the effects more and more.  Most of the places I ate at were supposed to be more healthy places but at only one of them did I not really react to anything in their food.  So what happens when I react to msg?  Well first I get a terrible headache.  It’s almost immediate, about a few minutes after I’ve taken the first bite or two.  A little after that I start to feel hollow in my abdomen and then my chest.  Not empty like I’m hungry but like I have no internal organs.  Then the heart pounding starts.  My heart beats so hard that one night it kept my up most of the night.  Then comes the changes in my vision.  I feel vertigoey and like my eyes have swollen in my head.  And last but not least I’m thirsty.  Like….REAL thirsty.   I feel a little like this dog looks.

demotivational-poster-n3z5ed8z4i-GOING-CRAZY

So, as you can see, MSG = bad.  At least for me.  Want a list of the places I ate at and what?  Here you go:

Habanero Grill – Steak burrito – Whoa lots of MSG in this one!

California Chicken Cafe – Chinese Chicken Salad- I was super MSGed out after this one.

Greenleaf Chop Shop – Lemon Grass Chicken Salad – I was pleasantly surprised by this place.  I had barely any reaction at all.

Mendocino Farms – Turkey Confit with Yellow Rooster Sauce Sandwich and Sophisticated Chicken Salad – The amount of MSG in this stuff kept me up all night.  Sad since I love this place!

Which Wich – Chicken sandwich with pepper spread – The reaction from this one was intense.  I just wanted it to stop.  The only cure was a margarita!

Big Tomy’s – Veggie Burger on whole wheat and California Burrito – I think I drank a gallon of water through the night after this place.

So, of all the places I tried only one made the cut.  I ate again there today and again, very little reaction.  I got the Cobb salad this time.

After eating out like this I made myself a smoothie on Saturday morning and wow the detox was crazy!  I wont go into it since this is a food blog and it’s not pleasant.  So the moral of the story is, most places, even if they are touting healthy food, are still putting MSG in their food.  At some of these places they probably don’t even realize it because it’s hiding under names like “natural flavors” or “spices”.    I do eat out a lot but I’ve never done an experiment like this where I paid so close attention.  Usually when I eat out I have wine with it so I don’t notice the effects as much.  This little test was eye opening.  So the question is, if you want to eat out, how do you avoid MSG? What do you all think?

Slow Cooker Wednesday – Pot Roast with Turnips

This week I made a HUGE pot roast.  I’m going to be eating it for days!  It turned out okay.  I think I made a mistake when I prepped it the night before and put the vinegar in.  I think sitting in vinegar all night made the taste a little strong. Next time I would put the vinegar in right before turning the cooker on for the day.  But it was still good!

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2 tablespoons coconut oil

5 pound bottom round and chuck roast

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 onions, diced

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 medium carrots, sliced

3 celery stalks, sliced

4 turnips, chopped into cubes

1 cup beef broth

1 cup red wine vinegar

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Turn your slow cooker on high while you begin to prepare the dish.  In a large skillet, heat up coconut oil.  Once hot, place the roast into the pan and sear it on all sides (about 2 minutes each side).  Transfer the roast to the slow cooker.  Place all the remaining ingredients into the cooker and place the lid on it.  Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.

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The meat is so tender on this and the veggies melt in your mouth! Note that I didn’t peel my veggies.  I believe that a lot of minerals and nutrients reside in the skin so I leave it on.  Just make sure to really scrub it clean!  Another super easy week day meal and it’s Paleo!  Happy cooking!

Cold Weather Meal – Chicken, Yam and Chard Soup

It was a beautiful 80 degree weekend this week but I knew it was gonna be cold and grey like it is today so I searched and found this interesting soup recipe at http://www.paleoplan.com.  I wasn’t sure sweet potatoes were actually Paleo but turns out white potatoes are the only root veggie that isn’t.  So here it is!

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 cups chicken broth

6 cups water

1 bay leaf

2 jalapenos, diced

1 large yam, diced

1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped

1 bunch green onions, sliced (greens and whites)

Juice of 1 lemon

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Heat large pot over medium heat.  When hot, add oil, onion, garlic, carrot, thyme and oregano, and saute until onion is softened and slightly translucent (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, mix 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl.  Cut chicken thighs into 1 inch cubes and toss in sea salt and black pepper mixture.  Add chicken to the pot and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium, add broth, water, bay leaf, jalapeno, yam, chard,and green onions and simmer for 20 minutes.  Just before serving, season with remaining sea salt, pepper, and lemon juice (I forgot this step but it’s still yummy).

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This one is very hearty and I love the consistency of it.  It feels so nutritious!  In other news, I figured out why my pictures were coming out so dark so no more dark ugly photos!  Slowly but surely I will learn to use this camera 🙂 Happy cooking!